Lexicon of refugeeism & asylum
Do you know what an asylum application is? Are you aware of the BAMF? And who can receive a residence permit and when?
Important terms in the area of refugeeism & asylum are explained in a straightforward manner in our lexicon.
- Access to and advice about the job market
All Germans can freely select their own occupation, workplace and education or training institutions. The same is also true for workers from member states of the European Union (EU) and their family members. Since the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) came into force, foreign nationals from these countries have also had full freedom of movement as workers.
In contrast, foreign nationals from non-EU states do not have freedom of movement as workers. They require a residence title that permits them to pursue gainful employment. The residence title is issued by the local Foreigners’ Office.
Employees, employers and other people have a right to receive advice and information about all issues relating to the job market, vocational training, support for finding employment and selecting and filling jobs (job market advice), as well as selecting an occupation and changing careers (career advice).
The responsible body is the Federal Employment Agency or the Jobcenter.
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany states: “Persons persecuted on political grounds shall have the right of asylum.” The right of asylum is a basic right in Germany. These basic rights also include the protection of human dignity, the equality of all human beings and the freedom of religion and conscience.
- Asylum applicant
Asylum applicants are people who have applied to be recognised by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees as a person being persecuted on political grounds or as a refugee and whose application is still ongoing.
- Asylum application
An asylum application must be made personally to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) or one of its regional offices. Applications for asylum in Germany cannot be made at embassies or consulates abroad. Asylum seekers must explain how and why they are being persecuted in a personal interview. If possible, evidence (e.g. records, documents) should be submitted. Each case is always examined individually. If the application is rejected, the asylum seeker is generally required to leave Germany.
- Asylum-Seekers’ Benefits Act (AsylbLG)
This act regulates the level and form of benefits received by those people in need of assistance who are also asylum seekers, people permitted to remain temporarily in Germany and foreign nationals who have an enforceable obligation to leave the country. The Bavarian State Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs is the highest authority in Bavaria responsible for the implementation of the AsylbLG.
BAMF is short for Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (Federal Office for Migration and Refugees). The federal office is based in Nuremberg and it has around 50 regional offices across the whole of Germany. The regional offices handle the asylum application processes. Asylum applicants present their asylum applications here at a personal interview. Each case is always examined individually.
- Bavarian Integration Act
The Bavarian Integration Act (BayIntG) came into force on 1 January 2017. This act defines the goals and direction of Bavaria’s integration policy.
People who come to Bavaria must accept, support and adopt all of the obligatory requirements in the valid legal and value system as the standards that now apply to them. Immigrants who are permitted to remain permanently in Bavaria should know the German language and our mainstream culture and appreciate, learn and also experience acceptance and tolerance.
Conveying our values, learning the German language and utilising the education and work opportunities are highly significant aspects for migrants of all ages when it comes to integration as described above.
The Bavarian Integration Act views integration as a task for society as a whole. It calls on the participation of all stakeholders, whether governmental or non-governmental. For example, the act emphasises the important role of municipalities in Bavaria and identifies the Bavarian economy as a key partner.
- Child day care facilities
Children are educated, raised and cared for in child day care facilities during the day. Child day care facilities either primarily focus on a particular age group or cater for a wider mix of ages. Facilities that primarily accept children from a certain age group are: nurseries (0–3 years old), kindergartens (3–6 years old) and after-school clubs (6–14 years old). Facilities catering for children with a mix of ages include, for example, houses for children (Häuser für Kinder), whose services are offered across various age groups (0–14 years old).
Child day care facilities make a significant contribution to the education and life opportunities for children and to the ability of parents to balance family and work responsibilities. Also see:
Deportation is the forcible implementation of a foreign national’s obligation to leave the country when they do not possess a residence title and there has been no deportation ban issued for them.
- Deportation ban
Foreign nationals may not be deported if their asylum application has been approved, if their refugee status has been recognised or if they have been given subsidiary protection or issued with a suspension of deportation.
- Dublin Regulation
The Dublin Regulation is designed to ensure that each asylum application is only processed by one member state within the EU and Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland. The Dublin Regulation stipulates that asylum seekers must submit their asylum applications in the country in which they first arrived and regulates the process for determining which member state is responsible for checking the application. The huge influx of asylum seekers in the last few years has shown, however, that this regulation cannot always be implemented in practice.
Asylum seekers arriving in Germany are distributed to the different federal states. This process is carried out using the EASY system – the IT system of the BAMF for “Initial distribution of asylum seekers”. Every asylum applicant must be allocated to a regional office of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The EASY system determines which regional office of the BAMF reception facilities across Germany will process the asylum application. This is dependent, on the one hand, on which regional office processes applications for the country of origin and, on the other hand, on the distribution of the asylum seekers according to the Königsteiner Schlüssel (Königstein key), which defines the quotas for the individual federal states.
- Family reunification
Marriage and family hold positions of great importance in our society and are protected under German constitutional law. This protection also applies to immigrants. Those people who are not citizens of a member state of the EU generally only have the possibility of family reunification under certain conditions.
Decisions about whether the conditions for family reunification have been met are made by the local Foreigner’s Office in accordance with the currently valid legal system.
- Foreign national
A foreign national is anybody who is not a German national in the sense of Article 116, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law. Article 116, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law primarily refers to the possession of German citizenship.
- Geneva Convention on Refugees
The Geneva Convention on Refugees defines a refugee as a person who is outside the country in which they are a citizen or in which they have their permanent residence, and who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or due to their political convictions and cannot avail themselves of the protection of this country, or is unable to return to it for fear of persecution.
- Help, social benefits
Homeless foreign nationals, those entitled to asylum, refugees and quota refugees are broadly handled the same as German citizens when it comes to social welfare. In particular, this applies to unemployment, social insurance and training grants, as well as the granting of social welfare.
If in need of welfare assistance, foreign nationals with approved residence status receive benefits in accordance with Articles 7 and 8 of the Social Security Code II (Sozialgesetzbuch II) or Article 23 of Social Security Code XII (Sozialgesetzbuch XII).
- Identity assurance
According to Paragraph 16 of the Asylum Act, the identity of asylum seekers over 14 years old must be assured with identity assurance measures. For this purpose, photos are taken and the fingerprints of all ten fingers are also recorded. If an asylum seeker has not yet reached the age of 14, it is only permitted to take photographs (Article 16, Paragraph 1, Sentence 2 of the AsylG). If the country of origin of the asylum seeker is unclear because, for example, he or she arrived in Germany without a passport, then a language analysis is carried out. Experts determine the country of origin of the asylum seeker based on voice recordings.
The word “immigration” is only used in Germany to describe residency that was planned and approved as permanent right from the beginning.
The terms “migration” and “migrant” apply to all forms of (long- and short-term) cross-border migration.
- Integration course
People entitled to asylum and those recognised as refugees who cannot speak German are obligated to participate in an integration course. The point of contact for the integration courses is the BAMF. Every integration course consists of a language course and an orientation course. The language course generally last 600 hours, while special courses can last 900 hours. The language courses deal with aspects of everyday life such as work, health, raising children or housing. In addition, participants learn how to write letters and emails in German, fill out forms, use the telephone or apply for a job. The orientation course lasts 100 hours and covers the German legal system, history and culture, rights and obligations in Germany, ways of coexisting in society and important values such as religious freedom, tolerance and equal rights.
- Integration of migrants entitled to remain in Germany
The “Law on the residency, employment and integration of foreigners in the Federal Republic of Germany” (Aufenthaltsgesetz – AufenthG) defines the framework for the integration of those people with a migrant background who are legally entitled to remain for a period of time in Germany into the economic, cultural and social life in the Federal Republic of Germany. The integration courses envisaged within the AufenthG provide a basic service for integrating those people entitled to remain for a period of time in Germany.
The goal of the integration courses is to successfully teach migrants the language, legal system, culture and history of Germany. Participants should thus be made familiar with life and living conditions in the Federal Republic of Germany so that they can act independently in all areas of daily life without the assistance or advice of third parties.
The Bavarian State Government supports the work to integrate those people with a migrant background who are entitled to remain for a period of time in Germany. Amongst other things, it promotes a comprehensive network of migration advice centres – supplementary to the basic advisory services offered by the government – and special integration measures on the basis of the “Regulation for promoting the integration of people with a migrant background” (Integrationsrichtlinie – IntR). In addition, it supports extracurricular homework assistance for young migrants with a focus on improving German language skills. The Bavarian Integration Act (BayIntG) defines the goals and direction of Bavaria’s integration policy. The BayIntG contains the basic principle of support and challenge, as well as clear rules for good coexistence. Immigrants who are permitted to remain permanently in Bavaria should know the German language and the mainstream culture in Bavaria and appreciate, learn and also experience acceptance and tolerance.
The guidelines issued by the Bavarian State Government for the integration of those foreign nationals, Jewish migrants and ethnic German resettlers who are legally residing in Germany for a period of time and all other relevant information can be found on the website of the Bavarian State Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Family and Integration.
- Königsteiner Schlüssel (Königstein key)
The Königsteiner Schlüssel is used to ensure the fair distribution of asylum seekers amongst the federal states. The Königsteiner Schlüssel is used to recalculate the distribution quotas for the individual federal states every year. The calculations are based on the tax revenues and population figures in the individual federal states. The distribution quota for Bavaria in 2016 was 15.5 per cent.
- Language courses for asylum seekers
Asylum seekers with “good prospects” of remaining in Germany – meaning those people from Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran and Somalia – can already submit an application for participation in an integration course before a decision has been made by the BAMF about their asylum application. Asylum seekers from other countries of origin who have not yet received a decision about their asylum application can acquire basic German skills and regional cultural knowledge to help with their initial orientation in the Bavarian pilot project “German courses providing initial linguistic orientation for asylum seekers” (Deutschkurse zur sprachlichen Erstorientierung für Asylbewerberinnen und Asylbewerber). The responsible point of contact is the Bavarian State Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Family and Integration. In addition, the Bavarian Ministry of Social Affairs is promoting the reading and writing skills of asylum seekers as part of the pilot project “Literacy courses for asylum seekers” (Kurse zur Alphabetisierung von Asylbewerbern) and providing financial support to those volunteers offering language courses to asylum seekers.
- Medical treatment
Anybody insured within the social security system has a right to the required measures to protect, maintain, improve and restore their health and capabilities as part of the statutory health insurance scheme, accident insurance scheme and pension insurance scheme, including the agricultural pension scheme.
Those people insured under the statutory health insurance scheme have a right to unlimited medical treatment, if required, in order to identify and heal an illness or to prevent any deterioration and alleviate any symptoms.
This medical treatment includes, amongst other things, treatment from a doctor or dentist including the provision of dental prostheses, medicines and dressings, remedies and medical aids.
In principle, asylum seekers can utilise the general medical care services offered, but are subject to the limitations stipulated in the Asylum-Seekers’ Benefits Act.
The terms “migration” and “migrant” apply to all forms of (long- and short-term) cross-border migration.
The word “immigration” is used to describe residency that was planned and approved as permanent right from the beginning.
- People entitled to asylum
People entitled to asylum are foreign nationals who have had their asylum application in accordance with Article 16a of the German Basic Law approved by the BAMF.
Only those people persecuted on political grounds by a body of the state have the right of asylum. People who, although not persecuted by the state, are still in danger in their homeland because of their race, religion or membership of a certain social group can be recognised as refugees.
- Residence Act (AufenthG)
The Residence Act regulates the following important points: the arrival, residence, settlement, gainful employment and termination of residence for foreign nationals. In addition, the Residence Act regulates the overarching policy goal of promoting the integration of foreign nationals. The principles behind the government’s integration measures are defined in Articles 43–45 of the AufenthG and are supplemented by the “Ordinance concerning the implementation of integration courses for foreigners and ethnic German resettlers”. The Residence Act does not apply to citizens of the European Union and their family members who are entitled to freedom of movement, nor does it apply to diplomats.
- Residence obligation
The residence obligation binds asylum seekers living in Germany and those issued with a suspension of deportation to only reside in the area defined by their responsible authority. In Bavaria, asylum seekers undergoing the asylum process are not permitted to leave the administrative district in which their accommodation is located.
- Residence permit
Foreign nationals generally require a permit to remain in the Federal Republic of Germany. People recognised as refugees or as being entitled to asylum receive a residence permit for three years. People granted subsidiary protection or who have had a ban on deportation issued receive a residence permit for one year. The residence permit can be extended or converted into a permanent settlement permit.
- Safe country of origin
Safe countries of origin are countries in which there is no threat of political persecution or inhuman punishment. Alongside the EU states, the Balkan states, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as the African countries of Ghana and Senegal, are considered safe by Germany. An application for asylum from nationals of these countries is considered unfounded, unless the applicant can provide evidence to the contrary. This allows the asylum applications to be processed much quicker. They are rejected in most cases and the applicant can voluntarily leave the country with support or will be deported by the responsible authority.
- Safe third country
Safe third countries are the member states of the European Union, Norway and Switzerland. A foreign national from a safe third country does not generally have any right to protection in Germany. They are not recognised as people entitled to asylum. If certain very strict conditions are met, these people may be recognised as being entitled to asylum in a few legally regulated and exceptional cases.
- Subsidiary protection
Subsidiary in this sense means provisional. Provisional protection can be granted to people who are not recognised as refugees and are not granted asylum. However, they are not deported if they face torture, the death penalty or great danger due to armed conflict in their homeland. The affected person is granted a residence permit and is permitted to temporarily remain in Germany.
- Suspension of deportation (Duldung)
If an application for asylum is rejected, the asylum seeker is required to leave Germany. Either the person can voluntarily leave the country or the obligation to leave can be forcibly implemented (deportation). In some cases, a person cannot be deported because, for example, they do not have a passport or they are sick. The affected person is then permitted to remain temporarily. They receive a suspension of deportation (Duldung). This also applies to refugees who are unaccompanied minors. After a waiting period of three months, those people issued with a suspension of deportation can seek work with the permission of the Federal Employment Agency if they are not responsible themselves for the reason for the suspension of the deportation (e.g. identity fraud or refusal to help in acquiring a passport).
- Temporary residence permit
Asylum seekers must wait until their applications for asylum or refugee status have been processed and a decision has been made. They are permitted to remain in Germany until this decision has been made. Afterwards they will either receive a residence permit or notification of the rejection of their application together with an order to leave the country with the threat of deportation. However, the person has the possibility of voluntarily leaving the country before deportation.
- Unaccompanied foreign minors (UMA)
Unaccompanied foreign minors (UMA) are boys and girls under the age of 18 who fled to Germany without their parents or other guardians. They initially receive special protection as minors. Once it has been established that they are minors, these children generally become the responsibility of the Youth Welfare Office in the area where they are found and then housed and cared for under the umbrella of youth welfare. As part of the system for distributing refugees across Germany, “UMA” are then distributed throughout the federal states in accordance with the “Königsteiner Schlüssel” unless an obstacle exists to prevent this (e.g. illness and inability to travel, possibility of reuniting the family).
Those people who do not have a job, are available for work, satisfy the qualifying period, have registered as unemployed at the Federal Employment Agency and have submitted a corresponding application have the right to unemployment benefit.
The qualifying period is satisfied by those people who were employed and paying compulsory social security contributions for at least 12 months within the two-year period prior to registering as unemployed. In general, the minimum entitlement period is six months and the maximum entitlement period is 12 months.
The level of unemployment benefit is calculated based on the wage earned before registering as unemployed. In the case of people with at least one child, unemployment benefit is 67 per cent of the average level of the last net wage earned, while for other unemployed people it is 60 per cent.
If unemployment benefit or partial unemployment benefit is not sufficient to provide a minimum level of subsistence, it is possible to supplement these benefits by applying for unemployment benefit II (basic income for job seekers). If a person’s earned income remains below a minimum level of subsistence, it is also possible for them to supplement their income by applying for unemployment benefit II (basic income for job seekers).
Unemployed people who claim unemployment benefit or unemployment benefit II are insured in the statutory health care scheme. They generally receive the same services and benefits as other insured people.
The UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) is the United Nations Refugee Agency. The United Nations Refugee Agency works around the world to ensure that refugees receive asylum in other countries. In cooperation with other aid organisations, the UNHCR operates refugee camps in many countries and helps people with food, clothing, bedding, tents and medical provisions.
- Vocational qualifications, recognition
Those people who have graduated with a vocational qualification or degree abroad can have it assessed to determine its equivalence to a German qualification or degree. In the recognition process, the responsible body will conduct an equivalence assessment. This involves comparing the foreign qualification or degree to the corresponding German qualification or degree (reference occupation).
An application for an equivalence assessment can only be submitted by those people who have acquired a qualification abroad. Unskilled or semi-skilled persons without a formal vocational qualification cannot submit an application for an equivalence assessment of their occupational qualifications and skills.
- Welfare benefits
Anybody who is not able to secure their own subsistence under their own efforts and their own means is entitled to receive personal and economic assistance according to Social Security Code XII (Sozialgesetzbuch XII). This assistance is designed to meet the special needs of the individual, help them help themselves, enable participation in the life of the community and allow them to live life in dignity.
Foreign nationals are generally entitled to claim social welfare benefits, help during illness, help during pregnancy and motherhood and also help with nursing care when they are actually resident in Germany. In addition to the benefits listed above, foreign nationals who possess a permanent settlement permit or a temporary residence permit and are likely to remain permanently in Germany are generally entitled to claim all of the benefits according to Social Security Code XII (e.g. integration assistance for people with a disability).